Friday, October 27, 2006
turn and face the strange:
Remember when Nouri al-Maliki was the conquering hero of Iraq, the serious non-sectarian who would impose order after the floundering premiership of the weak-willed Ibrahim Jaafari? The right does. Here's Joe Loconte in NRO, as recently as July. He's upset with you, you pessimist!
There is a tenacity, a resolve, a certain moral seriousness about Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, that many politicians here must find unsettling. His determination was on full display Wednesday, when he addressed Congress to discuss the future of Iraq. In a 30-minute speech interrupted 27 times by applause, Al-Maliki poignantly described the existential terrorist threat facing his country.

“Thousands of lives were tragically lost on September 11th when these imposters of Islam reared their ugly head. Thousands more continue to die in Iraq today at the hands of the same terrorists who show complete disregard for human life,” he said. “Should democracy be allowed to fail in Iraq and terror permitted to triumph, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere.”

This is, more or less, the charge made by the Bush administration — a charge flatly rejected by most of the Democratic leadership and their liberal allies. In the fight for Iraq, Al-Maliki sees the Battle of the Bulge. Detractors see only the quagmire of Vietnam.
Ah, but Andy McCarthy on NRO tells us that the clear-eyed thinkers of the right have never been under any such illusions about Maliki:

Many of us have zero confidence in Maliki, and have repeatedly noted his ties to Sadr, cozy relations with Iran's Ahmadinejad, and enthusiastic support for Hezbollah. Others counter that he is the right man for this time, that these troublesome affiliations go with the perilous terrain in Iraq, and that the Bush administration's expressions of confidence in him are well founded.

Well, he says he's going to take action on the Shiite militias. Here's his chance to start doing it. What is he going to do to secure the return of our soldier — one of the 150,000 or so over there who, at great personal sacrifice, are giving him, and all Iraqis, a chance to have a country?

Of course, it's not enough to have a giggle at the expense of NRO. There's something deeper at work: the tendency, pronounced on the right but also in existence on the left, to view America's allies of the moment as representing the apotheosis of American ideals and interests. The cynical mind at work here seeks to invest a failing policy with a certain swelling of the heartstrings in order to keep the mistake alive. As much as I hate to admit it, Frank wrote a great piece about this in 2003. We should learn many lessons from Maliki -- something about avoiding quagmires when possible comes to mind -- but one lesson is certainly about caution in lionizing this week's batch of friends.
--Spencer Ackerman
Here's how I think al Maliki sees it:

This man is in a most difficult position with a lousy future.
Blogger GreyHair | 2:05 PM